"It turns the usual thing on its head. Normally sex is the thing that's problematized. But actually their sexual relationship is so immediate and good, which was one of the things I thought was such an opportunity in the novel — although there is other stuff in the novel which isn't positive — to at least be able to show sex as this potentially transformative, positive and amazing thing in a real way rather than some sort of glamorized way.
"But it did present a challenge, because it has to be done in a way that feels not salacious and feels positive and creatively owned by the cast."
To do that, Abrahamson and fellow director Hettie Macdonald worked with intimacy coach Ita O'Brien, whose deft approach involved choreographing every move.
Arahamson says some film shoots invite the actors to improvise.
"And that's not cool, because that's putting way too much pressure on the actors and between the actors to choreograph themselves. But even if the director is deeply involved, it can be tricky," he says.
Two young actors can also feel pressure to say yes to certain things so as not to disappoint an established director, Arahamson says.
"Once those structures are clear, the actors are free to play them really naturally, because they're not worried about where their hands are going to go or they're not worried about looking terrible or them giving away something personal," Abrahamson says.
"They become like ballet dancers or like life-drawing models. That seems to liberate and once again they turn into actors and they play the scene. It's really magical to watch it, and I think it's why the scenes look so real."
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